Abstract

This paper examines whether the voter with the median income is decisive in local spending decisions. Previous tests have relied on cross-sectional data while we make use of a pair of California referenda to estimate a first difference specification. The referenda proposed to lower the required vote share for passing local educational bonding initiatives from 67 to 50 percent and 67 to 55 percent, respectively. We find that voters rationally consider future public service decisions when deciding how to vote on voting rules, but the empirical evidence strongly suggests that an income percentile below the median is decisive for majority voting rules. This finding is consistent with high income voters with weak demand for public educational services voting with the poor against increases in public spending on education.

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